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Movie Review: Minari (2021)

LanguagesKorean, English
TNS Score89.6
PlatformPrime Video
Run-Time1h 56m
CastSteven Yeun, Youn Yuh‑jung, Alan S. Kim, Han Ye‑ri,
DirectorLee Isaac Chung


The story follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny mobile house on an Arkansas farm in search of their American dream during the 1980s. Minari is a warm, wholesome, evocative ode to how one generation of a family risks everything to plant the dreams of the next one. The film unfolds with all the vividness of a lived childhood memory.


The film is a semi-autobiographical take on the director Chung’s upbringing. The story has been penned in a very ingenious way maintaining its intended raw ingredients. Though its a real simple tale of ups and downs in the struggling lives of immigrants, but it emerges with a strong message and impact on viewers. Each character is also written wonderfully with an equal amount of presence that certainly helps the film roam around its fascinating plot. Most of the story follows an adorable boy David and his disobedient behavior towards grandma.


Director Lee Isaac Chung has given a commendable perspective to the audience of his lived childhood memory. As a result, he provided insights into the lives of immigrants and struggles in their daily life. Chung directed it so skillfully, mapped all the nuances and complexities of this family that the characters never come off as one-dimensional.

Credits: IndieWire

The interplay of religion, class, race, and immigration in this movie is handled so deftly and plays out without feeling like a heavy-handed drama. He also manages to justify the way faith plays into their lives without making it anti-faith. All the characters are just lived upto the director Chung’s expectations and provide the whole definite world he wanted to create.

Cinematography & Score

Minari is named after a herb or plant that can be grown anywhere and helps treat several causes, and the movie describes the value brightly of using its name. The film is entirely shot around the farmland, and cinematographer Lachlan Milne captures the lush greenery so vibrantly. Besides that, so many shots throughout the movie that doesnt need any voice to describe its idea. The background score is perfect from the first note; without exaggeration, it simply elevates the narrating every time it kicks in.


The film has not had such a big cast, but whoever comes into frames has their value to complete the narrative, which is done wonderfully by all the actors. A strict yet tender father and husband, Jacob, played brilliantly by Steven Yeun, is able to capture the vulnerability, tunneled vision, and frustration of his character. Monica, a supportive wife of Jacob and caretaker mother of her kids, played radiantly by Han Ye‑ri, captures her character’s emotions and true essence. 

Credits: Los Angeles Times

David, a weakhearted boy who brings charm by his cuteness, played lovingly by Alan S. Kim, grabs all the required elements of a disobedient and naughty child. Soonja, a typical old-age Korean lady played brightly by Youn Yuh‑Jung, her childish and very lovable behavior towards kids is the main highlight of the story. David doesnt see her as an ideal grandma, but that later comes out as great chemistry and hilarious moments. Paul, a farmer who helps Jacob in his farming work, is played naturally by Will Patton. Everyone did a commendable job portraying the characters on the screen, but Youn Yuh-Jung and Will Patton’s performances are the most standouts from all of them. 


In Minari, you can feel each phase of this immigrant Korean family’s life with all the senses. You can taste the bitter herbs David’s grandma makes him drink. You can hear it in the way the children respond in English when their parents speak in Korean. You can smell not just Grandma’s Korean smell but also the rotten stink of dried urine from David’s recurring bedtime accidents. You can sense the loud fights between Jacob and Monica and how their kids try to send them a message in a unique way.

Credits: GoldDerby

Minari is a slice-of-life film with so many similarities captured by the director and presented naturally and realistically. It never hurt any feelings; it tries to deliver a message of how a family works and describes the values of a family.

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